NABShow NY - 9-26-16

Analysis for 'Sports'

  • How Four Technologies Combined to Make Twitter’s NFL Broadcast an Online Video Milestone

    Last Thursday night felt like a milestone moment to me in the continued mainstreaming of online video viewing. At 9pm, I turned on my 46-inch Insignia HDTV, toggled to input 3, grabbed my Fire TV remote control, scrolled to the app section, downloaded the Twitter app and began watching the Jets play the Bills over my 100 mbps Comcast broadband connection in pristine quality. Just like that I was watching an NFL game outside the traditional TV ecosystem.

    The whole process took just a few minutes and likely could have been accomplished by the least tech-savvy among us. On the surface it might seem like a relatively trivial undertaking, but in reality, the experience reflected the significant technology and consumer behavioral advancements that have taken place in just the past 10 years or so. Every one of these advancements was critical in enabling the Twitter broadcast. And every one of them is also causing the seismic changes roiling the broader TV industry.

    Consider:

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #336: Olympics Viewing Shifts to Online

    I'm pleased to present the 336th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Like tens of millions of others, Colin and I have been watching our fair share of the Olympics. And like lots of others as well, instead of watching on linear TV, much of our viewing has been via the NBC app. Although linear TV viewing of the Olympics is down this year, NBC has reported that over 2 billion minutes have been streamed.

    That reflects a broader shift in viewing behavior over the last few years as consumers move from linear to on-demand viewing using various devices. Colin and discuss the implications of this and what we might see in 2020.

    Listen now to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 44 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #335: Disney Bets on BAMTech; Hulu Cuts Loose Free Service

    I'm pleased to present the 335th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up this week, Colin and I dig into Disney’s new $1 billion investment in BAMTech, the technology spin-off of Major League Baseball Advanced Media. We both like the move as it further positions Disney to capitalize on online delivery, while protecting itself from ongoing changes in viewers’ behavior. In this case, Disney’s sheer size gives it the resources to keep its options open.

    Next up, Colin and I were both surprised by Hulu’s move earlier this week to jettison its free, ad-supported viewing service to a new partnership with Yahoo. Colin wrote a great piece earlier this week listing the 5 most important reasons why he thinks this was a mistake, which we discuss. Hulu continues evolving away from its roots, as it prepares to launch its skinny bundle next year, which brings its own set of challenges.

    Listen now to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 51 seconds)



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  • BAMTech Investment Shows How Disney Keeps Covering Bets on Online Video’s Future Impact

    Say this for Disney - in just the past couple of years or so it has moved to cover virtually every bet for how online video might impact the company in the future.

    With its Maker Studios acquisition, Disney expanded into YouTube-style content creation for kids and millennials. With DisneyLife, it’s moving into SVOD entertainment beyond its pivotal output deal with Netflix. Now with Hulu, it’s addressing cord-cutting and the potential of skinny bundles (as well as with deals with DirecTV Now, Sling TV and PlayStation Vue).  And finally, with its new $1 billion BAMTech investment, it’s adding platform capabilities for direct-to-consumer live sports streaming. Plus, with the forthcoming ESPN OTT service, it will test its own direct-to-consumer sports offering.

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  • Network Investments Paying Off for Akamai in Delivering Record-Setting Live Sports

    Akamai’s network investments are paying off as the company keeps delivering ever-greater levels of concurrent live sports streams. The latest example occurred with last weekend's Euro 2016 Portugal-France championship match where Akamai delivered a peak of 7.3 Tbps during overtime. That level beat the 2014 Argentina-Netherlands World Cup final which achieved a 7.0 Tbps peak.

    Akamai said that over 3.3 million concurrent streams were delivered at peak across 35 rights-holders globally. Akamai’s VP, Product Management Corey Halverson told me in a briefing that a number of network investments in quality and reliability have been instrumental in supporting the record streaming activity.

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  • NeuLion is Powering UFC 200’s 4K Streams to Sony TVs Tomorrow Night

    NeuLion is powering a 4K streaming option for tomorrow night’s UFC 200 pay-per-view event to viewers with Sony HDR Ultra HD TV sets in the U.S. and Canada. The stream is enabled by viewers who download the UFC app from Google Play and pay a $10 additional fee on top of the standard $59.99 PPV pass. All of the 4K encoding and delivery is done by the NeuLion Digital Platform. A parallel 4K telecast is also available to DirecTV viewers using their set-top boxes.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #323: Rio Olympics on X1 Will Be a Breakthrough Experience

    I'm pleased to present the 323rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Colin and I were both very impressed by the demo that Comcast CEO Brian Roberts did at INTX earlier this week of how the X1 set-top box will blend linear TV and online video streams from this summer’s Rio Olympics into one experience.

    We both believe this will be a truly breakthrough viewer experience, showcasing X1’s broadband capabilities and the value of the two-way interactive network. We envision Comcast launching a massive marketing campaign in the months leading up to the Olympics highlighting how experiencing the Olympics will be “best on X1,” in turn driving new subscriber acquisitions and upgrades.

    More broadly, we discuss how valuable X1 and Comcast’s back-end infrastructure are as a platform for launching new features and services. We touch on how Amazon too is leveraging its platform for its Streaming Partners Program, underscoring the anticipated competition between big video platform owners. The role of a robust platform in determining the ultimate video winners is becoming increasingly clear.

    Listen now to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (23 minutes, 54 seconds)
     


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  • VideoNuze Podcast #318: SVOD Dominated by Big Three; Sling TV’s Confusing New Fox Tier

    I'm pleased to present the 318th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up this week Colin and I dive into the Parks data from yesterday revealing that just 5% of US broadband homes subscribe to one or more of the 98 SVOD services other than the big three (Netflix, Amazon and Hulu). We agree that the data underscores just competitive it will be for the 98 and growing) minnow SVOD services to breakthrough.

    One of those 98 services is Sling TV, which this week announced the beta of a new $20/month multi-stream service that includes select Fox networks. While Colin believes it’s a smart move by Sling TV to further segment the market, I view it as both confusing and also counter to Sling TV’s brand proposition, at least as it’s currently offered.

    By separating the Fox networks and ESPN networks on 2 different tiers, Sling TV is in effect forcing sports fans to take both. That means $40/month for just the 2 base packages, and, as best I can tell there are 22 other networks that are duplicated in both tiers (meaning dual subscribers are in effect paying twice for them).

    It’s hard to see how this represents breakthrough value and simplification of TV. Rather it just seems like unnecessary confusion, likely driven by Disney and Fox licensing restrictions to hedge against Sling TV becoming too popular.

    Listen now to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 51 seconds)



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  • VideoNuze Podcast #317: Live-Streaming Battle Heats Up

    I'm pleased to present the 317th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Live-streaming was in the headlines this week as the NFL announced Twitter as its partner for Thursday Night Football games and Facebook unveiled a slew of new features for Facebook Live.

    On this week’s podcast, Colin and I discuss details of both of these initiatives, comparing and contrasting the upside. Colin is more enthusiastic about the Twitter-NFL deal, which is still a bit of a head-scratcher for me. Conversely, I’m very bullish on Facebook Live and believe it’s a natural extension of how Facebook is already used. The live-streaming battle will heat up further when YouTube launches its own live feature soon.

    All of this means that live-streaming is poised to become a much more mainstream activity going forward.

    Listen now to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (19 minutes, 51 seconds)



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  • Twitter is the Unlikely Winner of NFL Thursday Night Games

    Underscoring once again how unpredictable the online video space is, Twitter has emerged as the unlikely winner of the rights to stream NFL Thursday Night Football (TNF) games for the 2016-2017 season. Just yesterday I wrote that with Facebook and Apple bowing out, the bidding likely came down to Amazon, Verizon and Google, with Verizon the most likely winner for a variety of reasons.

    On the one hand, Twitter’s interest in streaming the TNF games makes sense, as recently returned CEO Jack Dorsey has publicly stated that a top 2016 priority is live streaming, including leveraging its Periscope product. The 10 TNF games give Twitter a marquee property to highlight live streaming, which complements Twitter activity around all games. And Twitter already had a deal in place with the NFL for highlight clips.

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  • With Facebook and Apple Out of NFL Thursday Night Bidding, Who’s in the Pole Position Now?

    Late Friday afternoon, Bloomberg reported that Facebook had dropped out of the bidding for streaming rights to the NFL’s Thursday night package. That news followed Recode’s report from last month that Apple had also withdrawn. With two of the most likely candidates now gone, the only digital players remaining who are both big enough to afford the deal and for whom it potentially makes enough strategic sense are likely Verizon, Google and Amazon (I’m excluding Yahoo since its own instability almost certainly precludes a bid).

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  • Comcast-YES Network Standoff Puts Sports Rights Fees Back in Focus

    The never-ending tussle between pay-TV operators and sports TV networks over escalating carriage fees is back in focus due to the standoff between Comcast and the YES Network, which has the rights to broadcast New York Yankees games, among others. Comcast dropped YES last November, leaving approximately 900K of its New York area subscribers without access to YES. With the Yankees’ opening day one week from today, the standoff is going to gain much more attention.

    As with other sports TV carriage disputes, this one boils down to money and audience. Comcast is arguing that YES’s demand for a reported $6 per month per subscriber isn’t justified given its ratings. Last November Comcast said that over 90% of its subscribers didn’t watch the equivalent of even one quarter of the 130 games YES broadcast in 2015. Nielsen said that YES averaged 250K viewers in 2015, a decrease of 44% vs. its peak of 450K in 2007.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #310: Recapping Super Bowl Streaming

    I'm pleased to present the 310th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Colin and I recap our experiences streaming the Super Bowl to the various devices we tried. As I wrote on Monday, overall I thought the streaming quality was quite strong, with latency being the primary issue. Colin’s experience was more mixed, with his good old over-the-air signal the strongest.

    No surprise, the size of the audience streaming the game set a new record with nearly 4 million unique viewers, up about 60% vs. last year. But I was a bit surprised it wasn’t even bigger given the breadth of OTT options. Unfortunately CBS didn’t provide any details on streaming by device. We discuss the factors that drove audience one way or another.

    With the Super Bowl behind us, all eyes turn to the NFL’s pending OTT deal for its Thursday Night package. There are so many potential bidders in the mix who can leverage the games to their advantage.

    Listen now to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (21 minutes, 10 seconds)



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  • Super Bowl Streaming Quality Was Strong, But With Inconsistent Latency Across Devices

    Overall, the quality of streaming of last night’s Super Bowl was strong, although I experienced inconsistent latency across different devices I was using. As shown in the images below, I set up an informal lab in my house, with the game on Comcast, via X1 (center), Roku TV (left rear), Amazon Fire TV on an Insignia (right rear), CBSSports.com (front left and right) and Verizon Go90 (front center).

    As can be seen, each device is lagging behind the CBS broadcast feed on TV and to a different extent. I measured the latency at a few points and it seemed to get worse as the game progressed. For Lady Gaga’s national anthem, the Roku and Amazon feeds were approximately 40 seconds delayed, but by the end of the game, each was over a minute delayed. The online streams were approximately half this delay and the Verizon stream still slightly better.

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  • 5 Reasons Why CBS’s Live Streaming of Super Bowl 50 is a Big Deal

    Continuing the trend of making live sports available to viewers across a wide range of devices, CBS will stream live coverage of this Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 broadcast to viewers both online and through an expanded network of over-the-top connected TV devices, including Xbox One, Apple TV, Roku and Microsoft 10. This decision by CBS and the NFL to allow, and even encourage, the consumption of the premier sports event of the year through connected TV devices is significant for 5 reasons:

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  • NFL's Plan for OTT Streaming of Thursday Night Football Raises Many Questions

    The NFL announced yesterday that it was splitting broadcast rights to Thursday Night Football in 2016 and 2017 between CBS and NBC. The WSJ reported that each network will pay $225 million for the annual rights, a 50% increase over the $300 million per season that CBS alone had been paying.

    But the higher broadcast fees are just the beginning of how the NFL will more fully monetize the upcoming seasons. More intriguing were the sentences from the NFL’s press release: "The NFL is in active discussions with prospective digital partners for OTT streaming rights to Thursday Night Football. A deal announcement is expected in the near future."

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  • FreeWheel’s Q3 Video Monetization Report Shows Continued Industry Growth

    FreeWheel has released its Q3 ’15 Video Monetization Report (VMR), which reveals the continuation of a number of important industry trends. Both ad views and video views grew 28% vs. Q3 ’14, consistent with growth rates seen over the past few quarters.

    Live video was once again the fastest-growing genre, with a 113% year-over-year growth, compared to 30% for long-form and 9% for short-form. Sports was again the biggest driver of live with 63% of sports video viewed live, compared with 17% of news video viewed live (other genres were in low single digits). News had the biggest proportion of short-form (76%), while Entertainment (60%) ad Kids (59%) had the biggest proportion of long-form.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #290: Deep-Dive Q&A With Sports TV Expert Lee Berke

    I'm pleased to present the 290th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On this week’s podcast we do an in-depth Q&A with our guest Lee Berke, who runs LHB Sports, Entertainment and Media, Inc. Lee has helped dozens of teams create and implement sports TV networks. He has a wealth of insights into the role of sports in pay-TV and how online and mobile video are causing leagues and teams to adjust their traditional distribution strategies.

    Sports are a key driver of increased pay-TV rates and as VideoNuze readers know, I’ve been writing for years (examples here, here, here) about the billions of dollars non-fans pay each year in the form of a “sports tax” - subsidizing expensive sports networks they never watch. With the advent of robust, inexpensive OTT entertainment programming options, the pay-TV multichannel bundle has come under more pressure than ever, with subscriber losses peaking in Q2 ’15.

    In our Q&A with Lee we explore these issues and how he sees OTT impacting teams, leagues and sports TV networks. Lee believes TV will remain the most significant revenue source in sports for the foreseeable future, but also sees the leagues more aggressively experimenting online to serve a new generation of fans. Lee also describes how he’s advising teams, particularly on how to maintain flexibility and capitalize on new technologies.      

    Listen in to learn more!



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  • Whoa, With NHL Deal, Did MLBAM Just Become the Most Disruptive Force in Sports TV?

    Yesterday, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced a multi-faceted 6-year deal in which MLBAM will pay $600 million to take over distribution and operations of NHL’s GameCenter LIVE and Center Ice online subscription services (including via pay-TV operators), manage all of NHL’s web sites, manage all of NHL Network’s operations (including taking over ad sales) and jointly develop new digital products. As part of the deal, NHL is reportedly getting a 7%-10% stake in MLBAM, which is also reportedly going to be spun off (finally) from Major League Baseball. (clarification, per MLBAM spokesman, NHL's stake is in BAM Tech, the technology arm of MLBAM)

    That’s a mouthful, but what it amounts to is a major expansion in MLBAM’s scope of business, instantly morphing the company from being primarily a provider of technology services supporting rights-holders to being a multi-platform distribution company in its own right. As such, MLBAM may have just become the most disruptive force in sports TV, signaling to every broadcast and cable TV network which has an interest in sports TV -  from CBS, ABC, NBC, ESPN and on down the line - that the ground just shifted underneath them. Here’s why.

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  • Disney CEO: Long-Term, There's an "Inevitability" to ESPN Being Sold Directly to Consumers

    Disney CEO Bob Iger was interviewed on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” this morning (see below embed) and offered a surprising long-term vision for ESPN, saying, “Eventually, ESPN becomes a business that is sold directly to the consumer, where there’s an engagement that ESPN will know who their consumers are, will use that information to customize the product to enable personalization, to engage more effectively and offer advertisers more value as well. That’s longer-term. I think there’s an inevitability to that, but I don’t think it’s right around the corner.”

    It was the first time that I’ve heard Iger articulate so clearly how he sees ESPN’s future unfolding. Iger made the comments in the context of describing the huge distribution, promotion and consumption changes roiling the media landscape. Iger observed that despite a fall-off in pay-TV subscriptions, he doesn’t see the ecosystem changing significantly in the next 5 years, and that it was impossible for anyone predict with conviction how the media world will look 10 years from now.

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